CES: Rolling phones, giant drone, crazy toilets

  
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CES 2021 got under way Monday with the usual collection of oddities that sound really cool, until you start asking the hard questions.

Like that new box from Yale to keep porch pirates away. The packages are dropped off, and the box then locks up. Great. But what happens after UPS has left and the box is locked. How does FedEx get the package in there? And what’s to prevent a porch pirate from just picking up the box and walking away with it? And wait a minute, $250? Really? I wouldn’t spend $50 for it.

Sony has what looks to be an amazing new and really huge drone, so big it can carry a high-resolution full-frame Sony camera. Wow. Count me in. But how much does the Airpeak cost? (No word, but it’s expected to be skyhigh.) And how are you going to focus the lens from down on the ground? Details!

CES, of course, is the former Consumer Electronics Show, which had been known as the world’s largest trade show, attracting 175,000 people jammed into the Las Vegas Convention Center.

This year, due to the pandemic, CES was forced to go virtual. The good news for the Consumer Technology Association, which stages CES, is that so many companies are used to announcing their new lineups at CES in January, and they still wanted to participate, even in a virtual format.

The dirty little secret about CES is that there’s so many products announced, but most of them either never see the light of day, or turn into mass market hits.

But they’re fun to check out.

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Chinese based TCL and South Korea’s LG introduced a new type of smartphone. The “Rollable,” models will expand, from small to large. These are similar to what we’ve seen in the fold models from Samsung and Microsoft, which, when unfolded, become really big.

And they are hugely expensive and have been rejected by most consumers, due to the cost.

At least we know the rollable phone looks really cool. I’ll give it that.

Then there were the usual really beautiful and expensive TVs. Samsung displayed one 110 inch set that CNET says will cost around…ahem, $150,000.

But if money is no object, you gotta love what the folks at Kohler showed off. The Wisconsin firm, which specializes in bath fixtures, showcased (on video) a new “Stillness Bath” tub that comes adorned with lights, fog and aromas to, as Kohler put it, “create an immersive journey of the senses designed to relax the mind, soothe the body, and renew the spirit.”

It starts at $6,200, but fully loaded, can top $16,000.

Speaking of the bathroom, I virtually visited with the folks at Toto, the Japanese company that dominates that portion of the home in Asia. It introduced a prototype for a new “Wellness,” toilet that promises to check you out every time nature calls.

This is how Toto puts it.

“Each time the individual sits on the WELLNESS TOILET, it scans their body and its key outputs, then provides recommendations to improve their wellness.”

In other words, the toilet inspects No. 1 and No. 2, and makes recommendations based on what it reads on a companion smartphone app.

But before you run out to buy, a cord of caution. Toto doesn’t expect to the Wellness loo on sale for at least a few years.

And that’s all folks. Until next time.

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